image of Our old BSA C11G

Our old BSA C11G

While having a hair cut at the barbers today we got talking about motorcycles.

The Barber went on to say he and his wife had enjoyed a Harley Davidson for several years, riding out with two other couples and groups from time to time. He’d enjoyed it because of how the bike had looked with all its chrome and paint work, especially when it was all polished up.

But as time had gone on, and one couple or another had broken up through divorce or one thing and another, he’d found it was just him and his wife. The next thing he noticed was the only time he used it was when taking it for its annual Mot. After a few years of this he decided to sell it. So ended their motorcycle days.

I asked him if he’d ever used Counter Steering. He didn’t really know what it was, as he fumbled over his words, ending up saying he wasn’t very good in the corners anyhow.

It left me thinking about riding styles and boredom. Other than long motorway riding that I do find boring on a bike, when on an A road, the constant concentration of being in the right gear, at the right speed while traveling in the right part of the road in addition to being aware of and reading other road users makes for an absorbing environment.

Indeed I described it as ‘like ski-ing’ I had said to the Barber. When your doing it right, everything flows and you can feel it, through your arms, the seat of your pants, and through the bike itself. If you’ve never really experienced this state of harmony and balance, its kind of hard to describe it.

Image of Red Arrows by Steve Whittlington

Red Arrows by Steve Whittlington

The point I often think of is how much skill does it take to twist the throttle and go fast?


In reality anyone can do that as many novice riders demonstrate and the result is many accidents due to excess speed.


The real issue is like flying, its not how fast can you go, you can always get a faster plane or bike, but how precisely can you fly it?


This is why the Red Arrows and any other formation flying crew select the best pilots, as any pilot can open the throttle and unleash 100 horse power, and many novices do accidentally its that easy to do.

But to over take a car doing 45 mph and do so correctly with speed, and to slow down sufficiently before hitting the car in front without the use of the brakes, is to be in command of your vehicle. That takes precision to know the power band of your bike at that given speed in that gear and road condition and have it fit in the available space.

How many miles can you put under your road wheels without use of the brakes? This ensures your thinking ahead, using your gears and managing your speed. This skill doesn’t come easy, which is why novices can’t do this.

Indeed if you are continually practicing this sort of riding, there is never really a dull moment. When you get it all together and can manage mile after mile with riding at a making progress pace, it really does put a grin on your face. Its a shame he gave up before he’d achieved this experience. If your bored on your bike, you might like to think about the level of concentration and consideration your putting into your riding – putting more into it you might get more out of it.

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